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Rohloff
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Discussion Starter #1
I have a GF HiFi 29er and a Kona Bear 26er. Both are 4" travel trail bikes. I kept my 26er as a loaner bike. Last weekend my friend used it. He's in reasonable shape but rides only occasionally. He was a little nervous but did well on the ride.

This weekend, we went back to the same trail and I decided to switch bikes so he could try a 29er and I could get back on a 26er. Recently, I had been kind of questioning the benefits of a 29er and wondering if a 26er would be a nice change. We were both very surprised at the difference.

His first comment was he felt like a kid on a bike again. The big wheels just felt cool. I felt like I was 6'6" looking down on my tiny wheels on the 26er. I'm 5'9". He felt much more comfortable/stable on the 29er. He said it felt easier to ride. I can confirm that the trail felt much more sketchy on the 26er. He commented how it seemed I was bouncing around on the 26er and he felt like he was simply rolling over the rough terrain on the 29er. We both noticed that he was simply coasting a lot when I was having to continue to pedal to keep up. The prior weekend, I had an easy ride on the 29er waiting for my friend to keep up on the 26er. This weekend I was working to keep up with him. The difference was remarkable.

I'm not saying all this as a 26er hater. The 26er handled tight corners real well. I think a 26ers can be made lighter and probably fit smaller riders a little better. There are many applications where a 26er is probably better.

That said, I'm a complete convert to 29ers.
 

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Could you post some pics of the trail? Perhaps a section that was easy on the 29er and more challenging on the 26.
 

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bsdc said:
His first comment was he felt like a kid on a bike again.

Yep! That's exactly how I felt on my first 29er ride, and that was all it took for me. All other considerations were secondary.
 

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I would agree, but I find that fast cornering and descending i find myself almost wishing for the 26" - i feel able to really rail on the descents and corners, this is of course a 29" HT vs 130mm AM (albeit, only 2lbs difference between the 2) 26" FS - not that I don't love 29" and I think you're straight on, it feels like i can coast a lot more but be going just as fast - but there's benefits to both, haters be stupid for not acknowledging.
 

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Rohloff
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Discussion Starter #5
MTBJong said:
Could you post some pics of the trail? Perhaps a section that was easy on the 29er and more challenging on the 26.
http://www.austinbike.com/mtb/rockyhill/index.asp#_self

Pics are at the bottom of the page. It's a trail with a real mix of terrain. Rocky, rooty, sandy, gravel, pine needle hard pack with occasional roots, etc. The 29er really shined on the rough stuff. The rocks and roots just didn't seem to slow the 29er down as much at the 26er. Things were probably more equal on the pine needle hard pack, but the roots seemed to jolt more.
 

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Rohloff
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Discussion Starter #6
rvmdmechanic said:
I would agree, but I find that fast cornering and descending i find myself almost wishing for the 26" - i feel able to really rail on the descents and corners, this is of course a 29" HT vs 130mm AM (albeit, only 2lbs difference between the 2) 26" FS - not that I don't love 29" and I think you're straight on, it feels like i can coast a lot more but be going just as fast - but there's benefits to both, haters be stupid for not acknowledging.
Yes, I had fun on a few quick technical corners with the 26er. It was real flickable. But there wasn't any corner I couldn't do on the 29er. I noticed on the fast loose decents, the 26er was a little squirelier but it was quick and easy to correct. The 29er plows through with much more stability and confidence but when you get off line it's not as quite as quick to correct. You could really pick a sharp line on the 26er. The 29er just plowed through.
 

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Same experience for me. I recently rode my FS 26er (08 Giant Anthem 0) and 29er HT back to back on one of my local trails and the results were interesting. The 29er climbed better than the 26er and descended if not better just as well. My loop times were within seconds of each other, however I was able to keep my HR much lower and steady on my 29er than my 26er (if that is an indication of anything).
 
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